Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Yes, it's going to happen

So I had a long think and decided that, yes, there will be a third Nereffid's Guide Awards. Leaving aside the disillusionment with eMusic, the main difficulty with doing another was always going to be the amount of time I would have to put in. For two years I diligently filled a spreadsheet with every review from Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, American Record Guide, Fanfare, Classics Today, MusicWeb, plus a handful of foreign-language sites. Even when I kept up to date it was something of a chore, and when I let it lapse for a few months at the beginning of this year, I found it impossible to get back to.
What's changed? I took a look at last year's spreadsheet and the winners and runners-up and realised that I don't have to keep track of every review - just the "very good" reviews. In other words, the Gramophone Editor's Choice and Recommends, the 5-star reviews in BBC Music, 9s and 10s from Classics Today, and so on. Only albums that get 4 such reviews are in with a chance. So that reduces by about 80 percent the number of albums I have to worry about. (Or thereabouts - I'm ditching the 3 foreign-language sites and brining in International Record Review and I'm not sure how this will impact exactly). So it's much easier for me to get the information in. Granted, at the end of the year I'll have a long list of contenders and I'll have to check all the publications for "not very good" reviews of these, but this shouldn't be too much of a hardship.
Also - and very significantly - the 2009 awards won't be confined to eMusic: they'll cover all new releases. In the long run that probably means less work than before, because I'd always been keying in every review anyway and I then had to spend a lot of time finding things on eMusic. I reckon there'll be about 3 to 4 times as many albums as before, which obviously means better overall quality, especially for the Opera category!
Why do I do all this? It's for my own benefit, ultimately. A key motivation to Nereffid's Guide and the awards was simply to encourage eMusic subscribers to tap into a marvellous resource, but the project never would have happened if I didn't think it would help me find great music. And so it is with what we might as well start abbreviating as NGA3, only this time the net's being cast a lot wider.

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